F-16 downs armed Turkish drone deemed threat to U.S. forces in Syria

by WorldTribune Staff / 247 Real News October 5, 2023

A U.S. F-16 fighter jet shot down a Turkish drone on Thursday that was seen as a threat to U.S. forces in northeast Syria, reports say.

Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 UCAV / Creative Commons

The action of shooting down the drone of a NATO ally was necessary to protect American troops who were conducting operations nearby, the Wall Street Journal cited a U.S. official as saying.

While the Turkish Defense Ministry claimed that the drone did not belong to the Turkish armed forces, an American official described it as an armed Turkish drone and said that the U.S. was aware of that before it shot the drone down, the Journal reported.

About 900 U.S. troops remain based in Syria and they have been working with Kurdish-led fighters to battle the remnants of the ISIS terror organization.

Thursday’s incident comes as Turkey has been mounting air attacks against Kurdish militants it blames for a bombing attack in Ankara on Sunday.

Following the bombing, Turkey declared that Kurdish militant facilities in Iraq and Syria were legitimate military targets.

Turkey said that operatives tied to the Kurdistan Workers Party, or the PKK, had traveled from Syria to conduct Sunday’s attack.

Middle East analysts said that Turkey was unlikely to halt its drone attacks against the PKK after the U.S. action.

“It’s a bold step by the U.S. It’s not every day that the U.S. takes down another NATO member’s drone,” said Charles Lister, director of the Syria counterterrorism programs at the Washington-based Middle East Institute. “This should only be read as an American message to Ankara to quit. But I don’t think the message will be received that way. Turkey sees the PKK as an existential threat, and they will continue to press on this issue.”

Related: U.S. conducts new raids targeting ISIS in northern Syria, October 3, 2023

In April, Turkey carried out a drone strike in northern Iraq that came close to a convoy transporting Gen. Mazloum Abdi, a Syrian Kurdish leader who has been a partner of the U.S. in the fight against ISIS.

Three U.S. military personnel were in the convoy with the leader at the time of the attack, but there were no casualties.

Erdogan’s government has long blamed Abdi and the Syrian Democratic Forces he leads for attacks in Turkey. Abdi has denied any involvement, and U.S. officials have said the general has been focused on his campaign against ISIS.

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